Joe McPhee: Trinity
A blues-based distant cousin to the Edgar Varesé composition of the same name McPhee’s opening “Ionization” is a lengthy improvised exchange vested with similar levels of rhythmic energy. McPhee starts on tenor squealing oblong tones in tandem with Smith’s rolling percussion. Waves of textured sound crash and swirl around the pair as they drift in a sea of choppy polyphony. Kull’s acoustic piano eventually replaces McPhee’s horn voicing jackrabbit clusters against Smith’s cymbals before the leader’s craggy return in a rush of overblown flutters. Later the mood moves lyric with McPhee blowing tender Trane-like streams on tenor over a hard-edged tidal torrent of drums. A brief trumpet speech segues into a vocalized chant section before a final return to tenor and close.
“Astral Spirits,” ostensibly dedicated to the Ayler Brothers dusts off Kull’s electric keys and McPhee’s soprano in an improvisation the blooms slowly, but beautifully out of a folk-rooted theme. Overdubbing trumpet with soprano for the last several minutes McPhee creates a delicate braiding of lines with Kull’s luminous chords. Kull and Smith launch “Delta” together juggling the lead over a luminous expanse. McPhee eventually enters on pocket cornet breathing earnestly elegiac tones but soon turns to tenor for a more heated blues drenched energy. Moving back to trumpet and finally soprano he succeeds in cycling through each of his horns, Kull and Smith crafting a sliding wall of rhythms around him.
In his recently scribed liners, which accompany the disc, McPhee states that Trinity was the first record where he really began to feel comfortable with his tenor playing. Drinking in his work on each of his horns over the duration of the album it’s startling how much of McPhee the mature player is already solidly in place and his explanation takes on new candor. Curiously the gothic sword and sorcery cover illustration is left unexplained.
Atavistic/Unheard on the web: http://www.atavistic.com
Track Listing: Ionization/ Astral Spirits/ Delta.
Personnel: Joe McPhee- tenor & soprano saxophones; trumpet, pocket cornet; Mike Kull- piano, electric piano; Harold E. Smith- percussion. Recorded: November 28, 1971, West Park, NY.
Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide
Style: Modern Jazz